Have you visited any country and travelled only in cabs? Most likely the answer is NO, unless you are on an official trip or on your honeymoon. 😛 Traveling in cabs can make a big hole in your pocket. And hence comes the role of public transport. Good or bad, it tells us so much about the place.
When I went to Taiwan, navigating in the country was what bothered me most, but once I reached there, it was a cake walk. 🙂
The mass rapid transit system (MRT) in Taipei and another city Kaohsiung, together with inter-city bullet trains and the dedicated city buses form a convenient transportation system network in Taiwan.
Fast and easy to use, the Taipei MRT is the largest metro subway system in Taiwan and makes Taipei city one of the cooler Asian capitals to navigate. Do you know that it serves around 1.4 million passengers everyday?
I was pleasantly surprised to see that every station has bilingual (Chinese and English) sign-boards and wall maps guiding not only about the route & stations but pointing out the neighbourhood’s attractions as well. With increasing no. of stations, most areas of Taipei are now covered by MRT.
Since I was going to spend a few days in Taipei, I bought myself an Easy Card, which is available for NT500, of which NT100 is a deposit. Saved the hassle of standing in queue for tickets and fumbling for change. It’s not easy, understanding the unfamiliar different coins is a big task for me!
This Easy Card is valid for MRT as well as local city buses and even for payments at certain car parks and convenience stores. You get a 20% discount on MRT fares. Wait, there are other advantages as well! If you transfer between the MRT and a city bus within two hours, you get a discount of NT dollar 7.
Also, if a passenger traveling by MRT deboards the metro and takes a bus within 30 minutes to a destination where MRT facility is not available, the price of the bus ticket comes down to half the price.
The best part is, that it works in other cities as well! When I went to Taichung, the same Easy Card made my life further easy. 🙂
One can also buy single journey ticket or a one-day pass.
One thing that I noticed is, in the Taipei MRT the lines are generally not referred to by color name (like blue line, red line…). Instead they are referred to by their terminal station. This naming convention is a bit confusing for visitors who are not familiar with the city.
So disciplined is the crowd, they make a queue for elevator as well and stand on one side instead of occupying the whole place.
While going to Hot Springs, I got into a colorful small train. What I liked most about it was the interactive map inside the coach which can be used to know more details about the area such as hiking trails, springs, waterfall, restaurants etc. Here you can see a girl using the touch screen of the map.
** NT = New Taiwanese Dollar
* 1 NT = 2 INR approx.
Some points to take note before you embark the MRT.
1. MRT running hours: 6:00-24:00
2. To provide passengers a comfortable and safe ride, smoking, drinking, and gum chewing are strictly prohibited in MRT trains and stations.
3. Using cellular phone is prohibited in the first and the last coaches of the train.
4. If you are buying tickets, they are valid on the day of purchase.
5. Pets are allowed only in hand-carry cages, except for police dogs and guide dogs.
Taiwan definitely knows how to serve the people better. 😀
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